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Treatment options for eyesight deterioration from age

August 25, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
You can pretend it's not happening for as long as you want, but the fact is once you hit 40, your eyesight naturally starts to deteriorate.

The inability to focus close up as you age is called presbyopia. Reading glasses are usually the first line of treatment, but doctors are offering a whole range of different options.

About 14 years ago, 54-year-old Randy Bissel noticed his eyesight started deteriorating.

"Forty is when I had to start having the reading glasses, and then it just got progressively worse," said Bissel. "It began where I needed them just some of the time, and then after a while, I needed them just about all the time."

Bissel suffers from presbyopia, an inevitable condition in which the crystalline lens of your eye loses its flexibility, which makes it difficult for you to focus on close objects.

"You can wear glasses, you can wear contact lenses, or you can have treatment either with a laser or a lens," said ophthalmologist Dr. Paul Dougherty

Dougherty says whether you wear glasses or opt for surgery, each type of treatment offers its own set of options.

"For presbyopic patients who don't want any surgical treatment, you can wear contact lenses two ways: One is to do monovision, where one of the eyes is set for distance, the other eye is set for near," said Dougherty.

Bifocal or progressive contact lenses have circular rings and each ring splits light so a user can see both near and far.

"The problem with a bifocal contact is many people don't adapt to it. There's only about a 10 to 15 percent rate of adaptation. Related to the fact that the bifocal contact lens can decrease vision quality," said Dougherty.

That's because every time you blink, the contact moves.

The same effect can be achieved more efficiently with a bifocal implant: a lens surgically inserted to replace your original one.

Randy Bissel chose LASIK surgery and he has one eye set to see near and the other to see far.

"Since I had the monovision done, I see close up, I can see well close up, I can see well in distance. It makes it a lot easier for me," said Bissel.

Doctors say you can try out the monovision or the bifocal option with glasses before you have anything permanently done.

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